Secondary students ‘stretched and encouraged’ at Maths Day

Published 16 May 2011

peggmdayMathematics students from secondary schools throughout northern NSW and from as far south-west as Dubbo got together at the University of New England on Friday to share their enthusiasm for maths in a day of stimulating competition.

More than 200 students from 32 schools, accompanied by teachers and parents, travelled to UNE to take part in the University’s annual Year 8 Mathematics Day, which is now in its 17th year. Working in 55 teams of four, the students enjoyed an experience of cooperative problem solving and applying mathematics to real-life scenarios.

“It’s been a great day,” said Anna Owen, a mathematics teacher from The Armidale School, after it was all over. “It’s stretched them and encouraged them, and it’s also shown them how much enjoyment you can get from maths. It’s been a very positive experience for maths students.”

The event is sponsored each year by the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR), UNE’s School of Education, and the New England Mathematical Association. UNE’s Professor John Pegg, the Director of SiMERR, said that the students had tackled all the challenges with enthusiasm, and that the final scores had been very close.

Ashford Central School won the trophy in the central schools’ division, with teams from Emmaville Central and Uralla Central coming second and third respectively. Toormina High School won the high schools’ division, with teams from John Paul College (Coffs Harbour) and Duval High School (Armidale) coming second and third. Students from New England Girls’ School won the “construction” competition, which challenged the teams to build the tallest free-standing tower from the materials provided.

Professor Pegg pointed out that the Year 8 Mathematics Day allowed participants to meet enthusiastic maths students from other schools, and that it encouraged them to talk to each other about maths within their teams when solving problems collaboratively.

At the end of the day, Professor Pegg thanked all those involved, and in particular the teachers from the New England Mathematical Association who had devised the questions and answers.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Professor John Pegg at the Maths Day.